Houston Cougars


Good players are everywhere, you just have to know where and how to find them. Part of the where includes the G League Elite Camp, where many players have shined enough to give themselves an opportunity. Recently, that has included the likes of New Orleans Pelican Jose Alvarado, Charlotte Hornet Cody Martin, Miami Heat Caleb Martin, and Indiana Pacer Duane Washington Jr., among countless others. This is a great stepping stone for fringe prospects to catch the eyes of NBA scouts and anybody else who watched, like me. Here are a few that did exactly that.

Marcus Sasser, Houston* (* = Earned NBA Combine invite)

The roaming microwave scoring guard is a hot commodity in today’s NBA. Recently in the first round, guys like Jordan Poole, Immanuel Quickley, and Bones Hyland slid into the late first round for the ability to provide instant offense. Marcus Sasser showed he’s got that type of goods in both of his two G League Elite and NBA Combine scrimmages. Sasser started the 2021-22 season with a bang for the soon-to-be Elite 8-bound Houston Cougars, averaging 17.7 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 2.2 turnovers, and 8.6 three-point attempts per game to go with 43.7/43.7/74.4 shooting splits. He, unfortunately, suffered a foot injury that prevented Sasser from playing another game for Houston beyond December 22nd but made up for the lost time.

Marcus Sasser has deep range and isn’t afraid to show it. Give him a screen and drop coverage and you’re in for not a good time. He routinely dropped bombs from way beyond the three-point line.

Unless you have a versatile big who can defend on the perimeter, switching isn’t a great remedy either. Marcus Sasser has a tight handle and an array of moves he can string together to make bigs out of their element look foolish. Virginia Tech’s Keve Aluma can tell you all about it firsthand. Just look at this filth.

Sheesh. As if that wasn’t enough, Sasser can also beat you as a passer too. He won’t fling Luka Doncic-esque crosscourt passes, but he can at least hit the roll man if you trap or find the next shooter if his man is tagging the roller.

Had it not been for his foot injury, Marcus Sasser probably wouldn’t have even been in the G League Elite Camp and garnered more buzz than he had before this week. His performance this week remedied all that. With measurables similar to Immanuel Quickley, Sasser should start getting some buzz in the late first or the start of the second round.

Jules Bernard, UCLA

There wasn’t a player I enjoyed watching more from the G League Elite Camp scrimmages than Jules Bernard. Quite frankly, I thought he was the best player in this event and was shocked he didn’t get the invite. Selfishly as a Laker fan whose roster needs help any way possible, I liked this for the chance Bernard slips through the cracks. It sucks for Bernard but he put enough great tape out there for someone to give him a shot.

Let’s start with bringing energy. Jules Bernard did that on both ends of the floor. Defensively, on the ball, Bernard is versatile and can guard multiple positions with his 6-7 210-pound frame. Sometimes guys can be hounds on the ball but coast when they aren’t directly involved in the play. That’s not Bernard. He was not only alert off the ball but routinely made plays in such circumstances. Take this play for example. Bernard fights over the screen on the dribble handoff and not only blows it up but gets the steal along the way.

This play was another good example and showcases his energy offensively too. He gets the deflection after someone tried to backcut them, forces the turnover, then turns on the jets on the other end of the floor as a cutter to ultimately earn free throws.

Transitioning further onto the offensive of the floor, Bernard flashed some ability to create too. He’s not someone you’re going to ask to run 30 pick and rolls every game, but he can do so in a pinch and did plenty during these scrimmages. He’s a stout straight-line driver. If he sees a lane, he’s pouncing on it instantly.

He can also create some pull-up jumpers in a pinch too. You’re going to rely on a steady diet of it from him, but it’s always nice to have as many players as possible that can win a mismatch or create late in the clock. Jules Bernard does exactly that here. He gets Brady Manek switched onto him and hits him with a stepback three as the shot clock expires.

Jules Bernard also has a good feel. He will make the extra pass and knows how to pass against a scrambling defense. He played on a loaded UCLA team with multiple pros, so he knows how to sacrifice for the better of the team and dial in on the little things. He’s a career 35.4-percent three-point shooter and 77.4-percent free-throw shooter. He reminds me a lot of Kelly Oubre Jr. with less bounce and more focus on the winning aspects of the game. I was a fan of Bernard’s before this event and more so after. Someone will make their team better if they give Jules Bernard a chance, whether as a draft pick or on a two-way contract.

Jared Rhoden, Seton Hall*

If Jules Bernard was my favorite player to watch from this event, Seton Hall’s Jared Rhoden was not far behind. If you like guys who play hard all the time, you’ll love Jared Rhoden’s game. I didn’t know much about him before this event, but I’m a very big fan of his now after watching him play four times. Now, if you’re looking for scoring, you’re in the wrong area of the store. But Rhoden excels at making all the right plays to help your team win, especially defensively. This was one of my favorite plays I saw someone make all week.

This is awesome. Rhoden tags the roll man and then gets back to his man Tyrese Martin (who himself earned an NBA Combine invite and had a great week). But not only does he get back, but he never overcommits, sticks with Martin on the drive, forces a contested shot that goes nowhere, and finishes it with a rebound. That’s perfect, awesome defense.

There, Jared Rhoden was off the ball, but he made plays on the ball too. This play was a great example. He navigates over the screen in pick and roll, gets back to his man, and deflects the pass, forcing a turnover. Again, awesome defense.

Jared Rhoden’s effort stuck out in every facet of the game, but especially in transition. This play was a great example of it. First, he strips his man to jar the ball loose and force yet another turnover. But then, he outruns everybody, including the guy he just stripped, to beat everyone to the floor and draw free throws. Effort is a skill and Rhoden has a lot of it.

Jared Rhoden is a tremendous defensive player who can make plays both individually and within the team structure while outhustling everybody on the floor. He is not a particularly great offensive player; creating offense for himself was a chore for him. But, versatile, long (he has a 6-10.5-inch wingspan) who can hit 43-percent of their catch-and-shoot looks will absolutely have a spot in the NBA. I didn’t know much about Jared Rhoden before this week. Now? He’s one of my favorite prospects in this entire class.

Tevin Brown, Murray State

Tevin Brown was another player whose phone didn’t ring with a combine invite. It’s a real shame because he shined during this event with a game tailor-made for today’s NBA. Brown has the rep of a shooter; he shot 38.6-percent from deep on over 7 three-point attempts per game and just under 75-percent from the free-throw line. He can hit spot-up threes or on the move. Hitting this off a dribble handoff from way beyond the three-point line is a good example.

Tevin Brown is not just a shooter, however; far from it. He has a solid feel (3.3-1.8 career assist-to-turnover ratio) and can create a shot for himself. That’s super important, especially in situations where he either gets a big switched onto him or a team wants to use him to attack a weaker defender. Murray State developed his ability to create and gave him plenty of reps as a primary or secondary creator. He’ll likely play more of the latter but the more creation on the floor, the better, and Brown provides it.

Tevin Brown is no slouch defensively either. He steps up when bigger players attack him, but he’s best sticking with guards on the perimeter. This play is a good example. Brown gets skinny when the screen comes and cuts JD Notae’s driving lane off, forcing him to kick it out.

Brown is not as big as this guy, but he reminds me a lot of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. He’s a perfect role player who can provide a great blend of shooting, playmaking on the move, and defense. He and Ja Morant shared the floor together for one year at Murray State; it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Memphis’ great and smart front office looks to a familiar face to add to their depth.

Jalen Wilson, Kansas*

There’s one guy Jalen Wilson reminded me of watching him play four times from Tuesday to Friday: Kyle Kuzma. Wilson does not have the wingspan Kuzma does, but they share nearly the same measurables. Wilson checked in at 6-7.25 with shoes and 225-pounds; Kuzma is 6-9 221-pounds. Kuzma was in Wilson’s shoes back in 2017, when a strong showing matched with stellar shooting at the NBA combine prompted the Lakers to select him with the Nets pick acquired in their D’Angelo Russell trade. Wilson did not have a strong performance during the NBA combine but did during the G League Elite camp. 

Kyle Kuzma was not a very good shooter while at Utah. He only shot 30.2-percent from three on 1.8 three-point attempts per game and 63.3-percent from the free-throw line for his Utah career. That sounds… a lot like Jalen Wilson, who shot 29.8-percent from three on 3.5 attempts per game and 67.5-percent from the free-throw line. But yet, like Kuzma, that didn’t stop Wilson from letting it fly, and he looked comfortable doing so.

That’s a tough shot but Wilson made it look easy. If Wilson can improve as a shooter the way Kuzma has to the ‘good enough’ 34-percent on 5.5 attempts per game mark in the NBA, Wilson will be a legitimate NBA contributor. Wilson is a solid scorer and playmaker on the move but needs that shooting to keep defenses honest. If defenses have to honor his shot, he can make them pay.

Wilson is a slick passer too when he gets in the paint. He registered 20 more assists than turnovers in two years as a Jayhawk. He’s not going to manipulate defenses but when he sees help coming he knows how and when to dump it off to a teammate.

Lastly, Jalen Wilson is a tenacious rebounder. Any time the ball came off the rim he was right there fighting for it. Of course, you know who else is a good rebounder for his position? Kyle Kuzma, who just averaged a career-high 8.5 rebounds per game for the Wizards and averages 6.2 per game for his career. Jalen Wilson averaged 7.9 and 7.4 rebounds per game in the two seasons he registered legitimate playing time in Lawrence. Wilson needs to make strides defensively, but Kuzma did also coming out of Utah. Wilson helped himself this week and should get looks in the second round.

Kenneth Lofton Jr., Louisiana Tech*

No one, at least from this event, improved their stock more than Kenny Lofton Jr. For more on how Lofton fared this week, click here to read more on him and others who shined during the NBA Combine.

Every year the NBA has held its scouting combine, players use that opportunity to their advantage to boost their draft stock. This year’s combine seems no different. After four different scrimmages over the course of two days, here are a few guys that I am a fan of and thought did themselves a service not only competing with their contemporaries but helped their draft stock in the process to get themselves in consideration to be a late first-round pick or potential early-to-mid second-round pick.

Nah’shon Hyland PG/SG VCU: Hyland, nicknamed ‘Bones’ did not play on the second day of scrimmages, but the first was all he needed. Bones Hyland finished his first scrimmage with 17 points, five rebounds, and four assists while showcasing a ton of playmaking with the ball in his hands. Hyland was already renowned for his shooting ability at VCU (nearly a career 40% shooter from 3 and 82.7% from the free-throw line) but showing he can create for others, score off the bounce, and nail pull-up threes will only help his case to get drafted and the ability to fill the role a team asks him to provide. ESPN’s Mike Schmitz compared Bones Hyland to the Knicks’ Immanuel Quickley and it’s hard not to see the correlation. It’s a shame VCU was not able to compete in the NCAA Tournament because of COVID-19 issues that affected the program because it deprived the opportunity to make Hyland a household name, but his performance at the combine should get him looks from NBA teams around the 20s onward, in my opinion.

Josh Christopher SG Arizona State: Josh Christopher’s talent suggests that he should not have even been competing during these scrimmages. He’s a very good athlete and a big-time shot-maker. Getting by his defender was not a chore for Christopher, and neither was finishing above the rim. Christopher is raw who will often get caught ball-watching or gambling for passes, but he does compensate with effort overall defensively and on the glass. His shot selection tends to skew more towards the chucker side at times, but I think that can be improved upon, and he did show a willingness to move the ball. If I were running an NBA team, I’d be looking at Josh Christopher in the late first and stash him over on a franchise’s G League team for a year to get him more experience. Of all the guys who competed during these scrimmages, Christopher seemed like the one with the highest ceiling. He just needs more reps under his belt.

Isaiah Mobley PF/C USC: Isaiah’s brother Evan will get all the buzz in their house, and rightfully so, but Isaiah has shown he’s got game in his own right. Mobley showed a ton of comfortability playing on the perimeter on both ends of the floor. Though Mobley shot about one three a game during his two seasons at USC, he hit about 37% of those looks and shot it more frequently during the two combine games with about the same efficiency. He’s got good feet defensively to hang with guards (something he wasn’t asked to do a lot at USC since they primarily played a 2-3 zone), can protect the rim with size, length, and athleticism, and will tape over the holes once the defense begins to leak. Isaiah Mobley looks the part of a stretch five who fits the ball of the modern NBA.

Jason Preston PG Ohio: There might not have been a player I enjoyed watching more during these scrimmages than Jason Preston, especially since I didn’t have many opportunities to watch him at a mid-major school. He didn’t look like a mid-major prospect during the combine and looked every bit the part of a floor general. These scrimmages can tend to get, let’s say sloppy, to put it nicely, but Preston had his team looking like a well-oiled machine when he was out there. Preston’s playmaking was and is overall, sublime. When he sensed the chance to run in transition, he sent out a pass to a running teammate to get an easy look. In the halfcourt, he read scrambling defenses well to find open teammates and let them play to his strengths. Preston averaging over seven assists the last couple of seasons was no fluke. He’s also a good team defender who loves to rebound to get his team in transition that much quicker. Jason Preston reminds me of Lonzo Ball. He isn’t there as a scorer yet, probably not the isolation defender that Lonzo is, but both are super solid winning players that know how to make their teammates and teams better while stretching the floor (. There’s a reason Jason Preston nearly put up a triple-double in Ohio’s NCAA Tournament win over the Virginia Cavaliers. Preston just makes good things happen on the floor. He will help whoever drafts him. I’m a big fan of his going forward. 

Quentin Grimes SG Houston: There might not have been a more impressive player during these two days of scrimmages than Quentin Grimes of the Houston Cougars. He lit it up from deep in a variety of ways: catch-and-shoots, step-backs, side steps, you name it. Grimes flashed some ball-handling ability, but I suspect he’ll make more headway as a shooter who can space the floor more so than a guy a team would ask to create his own shot. Luckily for him, just about every team needs that kind of guy, especially one who can defend multiple positions like Grimes can at 6’5” 205 pounds and fight for rebounds. Quentin Grimes shot 40.3% from three this past season over eight attempts per game. That shooting translated during the scrimmages, where he scored 39 points over the course of two games on 15-24 shooting from the field. He’d be a great draft bargain in that late first to second round range if it carries over into the actual NBA games, which I suspect it will. 

Neemias Queta C Utah State: If teams are looking for a Clint Capela, Nerlens Noel type of rim-running, rim-protecting big man, then look no further than Neemias Queta. Queta was super active defensively, getting deflections and swatting shots at the rim. He showed solid mobility helping on the perimeter before retreating back to his fortress under the basket. Offensively Queta looked to throw it down whenever he could and even dropped some slick pocket passes as a fulcrum around the elbows. Queta was strong finishing around the rim and collecting boards. He helped himself a lot during these scrimmages.

Joe Wieskamp SF Iowa: NBA teams always will look for shooting wherever they can find it, and Joe Wieskamp of Iowa showed he’s got plenty of that. Wieskamp never shot less than four threes per game during his three seasons at Iowa and hit a robust 41.16% percent of them while also converting 77% of his free throw attempts. Wieskamp brought that dead-eye range to the scrimmages where it was most on display during his second scrimmage. Wieskamp dropped 26 points and hauled in 10 rebounds to boot while shooting 6-7 from deep. His athletic testing may have done him more of a favor than his game did. Wieskamp measured in at 6’7” with a 6’11” wingspan and a 42 inch vertical. Those are very promising measurements for anyone hoping to find a 3-and-D guy who can defend multiple positions and stretch the floor. Watching Wieskamp reminded me of Davis Bertans of the Washington Wizards. Shooting is a very wanted skill and Joe Wieskamp has that and then some. He looks like a guy that should not only be drafted but can stick around for a while and help teams win.

Jericho Sims C Texas: Though Sims’ game is much like Queta’s Sims has another gear in athleticism that Queta doesn’t. Jericho Sims delivered some of the best vertical leaps and standing vertical measurables in the history of the NBA combine. If you want someone to fill the duties of dunking the ball, grabbing rebounds, and protecting the rim, then getting someone who can jump super high would be a nice way to start. Playing more in his junior and senior campaigns than he did his freshman and sophomore seasons, Sims averaged at least 1.6 stocks (steals and blocks), so he matched some production to go with his athleticism. That isn’t necessarily what makes good defenders, but it is a start for sure. It didn’t seem like Jericho Sims was on many radars before the combine. But after unleashing some finesse as a roll man to complement his athleticism and defensive potential, he looks like he could be a great find later in the draft.

Greg Brown III SF/PF Texas: Greg Brown III, like Josh Christopher, is a very gifted player who is still raw. That’s how he finds himself more so as a late first-rounder now than a lottery pick after being a top ten recruit coming into this season. Brown didn’t do a lot during his first scrimmage, but he played with purpose and energy in his second, playing above the rim whenever he could. He’s a long, wiry, and athletic wing who should be able to defend multiple positions, kind of like a Derrick Jones Jr. of the Portland Trail Blazers. Brown could be a much better offensive player than Jones Jr. could dream of being, however. Brown is just raw and needs reps to improve his jumper (33% on 3.5 attempts per game, 70.8% from the free-throw line), but there is definitely something to work with there. Brown just needs more reps. If I felt confident in my player development program as an NBA team, I could see Brown progressing like how Pascal Siakam did in Toronto. Being a long and versatile defender provides a great floor for a player entering the NBA, and I think that should easily translate for Greg Brown III. But I think there’s potential for way more than just that, and I’d be willing to take that shot if I were running an NBA team.

Kessler Edwards SF Pepperdine: You want a 3-and-D guy? Boom, here you go. Edwards was seemingly the only player that could bother the scorching hot Quentin Grimes as he was in the midst of a 27 point scoring bonanza. Edwards is a sturdy 6’8″ 200 pounds, a career 38.7% three-point shooter, and career 78% free-throw shooter. NBA teams can never have enough 3-and-D guys, so I’d expect Edwards to hear his name called sooner than later during the 2021 NBA Draft.